woman feeding cat

The Rise of Functional Pet Food

The functional pet food space continues to grow as pet owners seek out the best products to address their pets’ needs. Personalization, natural ingredients, and sustainability are the trends to watch in functional pet food. 


  • The humanization of pets is driving expectations of natural and functional pet food options.
  • Personalized pet food for health is the newest trend in functional pet food.
  • Sustainability in pet foods can be approached through water reduction.

Humanization of Pets Is Driving Functional Pet Food

The humanization of pets is a trend that continues to reshape the pet food industry. Today's pet owners are taking the time to read ingredient labels and health claims before making a pet food purchase for their “fur baby.”

What they look for tends to follow the trends in human food, including natural ingredients, superfoods, and functional health benefits. As more people incorporate these types of ingredients into their own diets, the expectation for the same options in pet food is growing.

Personalized Pet Food to Address Health Concerns

Perhaps the newest area of functional foods for pets is personalized pet food. Personalization is typically achieved through questionnaires covering the pet’s age, weight, sex, breed, allergies, and flavor preferences, as well as specific health concerns the pet owner has for their pet. Health concerns might include joint health, vision, skin and coat health, digestion, dental health, or anxiety, for example. 

This kind of personalized nutritional support for a specific health concern is delivered through a micronutrient premix, a blend of the appropriate vitamins and minerals in the proper amounts, which is added to the pet food in the production process. Another key aspect of personalized pet food is specified portions—an integral part of treating the growing problem of pet obesity.1

couple with dog

Natural Pet Formulations a Priority

For functional pet foods (and, increasingly, for all pet foods), natural ingredients are important to pet owners. Pet owners may have a hard time perceiving a pet food product as truly healthy, despite health claims, when they see artificial additives and preservatives in the ingredient list.

A pet food with familiar foods as ingredients (like meats, fish, vegetables, and grains) that do not seem overly processed will resonate with pet owners as both healthy and natural. For functional ingredients with less familiar names, it can be helpful to include the more common name in parentheses after it—for example, “menadione sodium bisulfite (vitamin K)”—to clearly convey its benefit. 

Water Usage as the Next Frontier in Sustainability

While pet owners prioritize a product’s taste and health over sustainability when purchasing pet foods, Mintel believes there is value in calling out a pet food’s sustainability credentials, with water reduction predicted to be the next big focus area in sustainable food.2

For pet food companies, reducing water usage can come through reduced water consumption in manufacturing. Other opportunities include freeze-dried and "just add water" options that can give pet owners an opportunity to support pet food brands that are innovating in sustainability.

Nutrient Premix Solutions for Pet Foods

As the pet food industry evolves, the importance of health and wellness beyond basic nutrition continues to grow more important. As a global leader in functional and nutritional ingredients, with expertise in pet nutrition solutions like custom premix solutions, Glanbia Nutritionals is the trusted partner you need on this journey.

Contact us to learn how we can help you formulate functional and personalized pet foods for today’s market.


1–2. Mintel: The Future of Pet Food, 2023.

Take our poll

Enter your email on the next step to receive the articles as soon as they go live.

Hello! It looks like you’re using Internet Explorer. Microsoft is phasing out this browser, so we are no longer supporting it and some parts of the page may not look right. To enjoy the full experience, we recommend you use one of these browsers: Edge, Chrome, Firefox or Brave.